KEH Blog


The New Generation of Digital Memory Cards

There's constantly new digital memory cards coming out on the market, and with many of today's digital cameras coming with video capabilities, it's important to know which card will best meet your needs. Here's a little run down of the newer cards available...

SD Memory Cards
These come in various speeds indicated by a “Class”. The least expensive cards may not show a class designation, they are usually a Class 1 or 2. A Class 6 card is the minimum that should be used when shooting digital movies. A Class 10 card should be used with High Definition Movies. The difference in the classes indicates the speed at which the card can handle information. Even if you are not doing movies, the faster speeds will transfer to the card in a camera and transfer information to the computer faster. An SD HC card is adding High Capacity to the type. The transfer rates on these cards are Class 6: 15 megabytes per second & Class 10: 20 megabytes per second. These will work on almost everything made in the last few years.

SDXC Memory Cards
Just starting to enter the market, these cards are the same size as the SD and SDHC cards, but will attain extreme capacity. The next-generation SDXC memory card specification dramatically improves consumers’ digital lifestyles by increasing storage capacity from more than 32 GB up to 2 TB. Its exFAT file system handles large volumes of data. The specification for increasing bus interface, "UHS-I," with speeds up to 104 MB per second and a road map to 300 MB per second, and UHS Speed Class are available for SDXC cards and host devices. SDXC's extended capacity will provide more portable storage and speed, which are often required to support new features in consumer electronic devices, mobile devices, and industrial devices. Currently there are a couple of Canon SLR models with this capability.

CF Memory Cards
CF (CompactFlash) cards are primarily used in Professional grade SLR cameras. There have been changes in the last year in regard to digital SLR cameras, such as many models now offer High Definition movies. As with the SD memory, if you are going to shoot HD movies, you need a high speed card. We now have cards that are rated as high as 600X speed. A better gauge is the amount of write and read speeds that card can do. A 400X speed card can read at 90 megabytes per second and write at 30 megabytes per second. A 600X speed card can read and write at 90 megabytes per second. These are necessary when shooting 1080 resolution HD movies, plus transfer to your computer will also be very much faster.

Missed our card maintenance and tips post? See it here.

Shaped Bokeh With Holiday Lights

With Christmas lights aplenty, it's a great time of year to try your hand at some shaped bokeh shots. Here's a basic how-to guide to get started.

Materials needed: Lens cap, tape, thin craft foam (cardboard or construction paper work also, preferably black), shaped hole punch or razor to hand trim your shape, drill and drill bit (drill bit needs to be larger than the shape you are using), sand paper, lights.

1- Drill your hole in the center of the cap.

2- Sand both sides of the hole.

3- Cut a small foam/paper square for the inside of the cap.

4- Cut out the shape in the center of the foam/paper. (Test the size you want
to use by punching a shape on a 3x3 square piece of paper and hold over your
lens, smaller shapes work better.)

5-Tape or glue the square onto the lens cap.

Note: There's another method to making a shaped bokeh mask which is done by creating a paper hood for your lens. Both methods work fine, but the cap construction described will hold up better over time. The possibility of shapes are also endless- stars, hearts, letters, custom shapes, etc. Be creative and have fun with this!

Choosing a lens:
Any lens that has an aperture of F 2.8 or larger (preferably F 1.8 or even larger, the bigger the better for this).

Shoot with a wide open aperture (or lowest aperture number), and on manual focus.

To achieve the best results: Shoot the photo's at night time or in the dark. You can shoot different types of lights, but Christmas lights work best. To get the shapes to appear you must take the photo out-of-focus (don't focus on your lighted subject, but focus the shapes in the lights). The smaller the light source is, the closer to the subject you'll need to be. Experiment!

A short video clip showing the focus and loss of star bokeh...

© Patrick Douglas

Want to learn more? Read about Aperture and Shaped Bokeh relations

Basic Video Tips

This holiday season, follow these tips for better homemade videos...

* Be sure to leave about 3-5 seconds of space before and after the shot you are going for. This makes editing easier later, especially if someone is speaking to the camera. If you don't leave enough time before and after for trimming, your video and sound may be choppy.

* Try to avoid camera shake by using a tripod or bracing your arm on a wall or flat surface. This is especially important when zoomed in to further distances or filming an extended scene.

* Provide lots of light. Natural light is best but not always convenient for indoor shooting. Use windows when available, or turn on several lights in the room. External video lights are also available that will work for video cameras, or DSLRs with video. Be sure to watch for shadows, back lighting, fluorescents, or harsh lighting.

* Don't always zoom in and center the subject unless you are doing an interview style video. Try filming with your subject to the side, or try to frame them with surroundings. Framing can make for a more interesting scene. You do want to focus on your main subject, but don't fill the frame with them. Likewise, make sure your subject doesn't blend into the background.

* Shoot lots of B-roll (or secondary footage). This is just extra filler and really helps your video flow. You want your video to be entertaining and not just stuck on one subject. B-roll can include shots of decorations, scenery, people, etc. Just shoot anything that looks interesting to be featured under a musical track or voice-over later. B-roll can also include pictures from the event being filmed. Look around at your surroundings and if it looks interesting, film it. You can never have enough B-roll. You won't use it all, but better to have too much than too little.

* If you want to film several areas of a room or place in one scene, pan slowly. Too many quick movements can make a viewer feel a little dizzy. Start at one end of a room and slowly pan to the other side allowing plenty of time at the start and end for editing later. You may not want to use the entire pan in your finished product, but at least you'll have the footage to make that decision later. Pan shots also make great B-roll.

* Try using creative shots. One interesting idea is to zoom in tightly on your subject and then slowly zoom out revealing the surroundings. Again, this makes for good B-roll. Another good idea is to pan around your surroundings and then reveal your subject into the frame. Shoot from
different angles- shoot from above, below, different sides, focusing on different areas, framing with various surroundings.

* Leave plenty of head room. Don't put the top of your subject's head at the very top of the frame. Leave some space above their head for a better composition.

* Quick scenes are best. It is easy to lose the viewer's attention with longer scenes. They tend to get drawn out and boring. Also, a musical track under the video adds to the final product. Try not to use songs with lyrics if you are using audio from the video, as this can be distracting.

* Even though you may be having fun and playing with new shooting techniques, don't get too caught up and forget to film the "main event".

* Be sure to have batteries charged, and memory cards or tapes clear and ready before shooting!

- Katie Conner

An Introduction to Time Lapse Photography

What is time lapse photography?It's a technique where each frame is captured at a rate much slower than it will be played back. When replayed at normal speed, time appears to be moving faster, and thus lapsing. (Not to be confused with stop motion.)

How the below time lapse video was done:

Shot with a Canon 7D (any digital camera will work though), 15-85 lens (IS off and on manual focus), on a tripod (required), with an interval timer remote (I used one by Pixel). I set the camera to shoot Jpg files on the smallest resolution, at 3200 ISO.

I shot on Program mode so that the camera would take into account the changing light. The software I used to put it all together was Adobe Lightroom 3 (can download a free 30 day
trail). For editing, I sharpened, color corrected, and removed noise on each image. I took 744 images 7 seconds apart over 2.5 hrs. The final results were merged at 15 FPS (frames per second) down to 50 seconds of video.

Want to learn more about time lapse photography? Check out these great links:
- A complete video tutorial
- How to combine stills using Quick Time Pro
- Read about Intervalometers or interval timers
- DIY intervalometer, and DIY Time Lapse

- Patrick Douglas, video © Douglas Photography

Video Camera Formats

There are 5 main formats of video cameras currently being used and/or produced. Here, we will explain a little bit about each of those types.

1. Mini DV (digital video)
This uses small video cassettes to record. Mini dv is the industry standard for professional videography. They can record high quality and offer easy editing ability. The ability to connect to a computer via IEEE1394 connection (firewire) offers video transfer without a loss in quality. The tapes can then be saved so there is no concern with deleting files from a crowded hard drive as they can just be uploaded again later. Mini dv cameras are available with single and three CCD (charge coupled device) sensors. A three CCD sensor provides a more professional look to your finished video but a single CCD is much more economical. A couple of disadvantages of mini dv are: upload time, and the cost of the player. Mini dv tapes upload in real time, so if you have an hour of footage, it will take an hour to upload to your hard drive. A mini dv player is additionally needed if you upload a lot of recordings. If you use your camera to play back the tapes while uploading, this will eventually cause wear to your video heads. Frequent use requires a mini dv player for uploading to save the heads in your camera. The pros do far outweigh the cons for this format however. If you are serious about video or plan to do a lot of filming, I think mini dv is the way to go. ( has multiple Canon models (GL1, GL2, XL1, XL2), and one Sony model in stock.)

2. DVD-R
This type of camera records directly to a DVD-R for easy playback on most DVD players. This is a very convenient method of filming but it does not allow for any editing later and the recording time is limited with higher quality modes. If you are a casual shooter just looking for convenience and not a lot of control, this may be the route for you. The quality is not as high as with mini dv cameras, but the ease of having a finished product as soon as you hit stop may be all you need. ( has one Canon model in stock, DC330).

3. Hard Drive
This camera has a hard drive built into it, to record directly on to. There is no need for tapes, memory cards or DVDs. These cameras are becoming more and more popular and are starting to be made with three CCD sensors which makes them even more desirable. Of course, a 3 CCD hard drive camera is going to be much more expensive than a similar mini dv camera. Your only real recording limitation is the size of the camera’s hard drive; the more space available, the more recording you and do. A hard drive camera will connect to your computer via USB, and the files can be easily copied over to your computer’s hard drive for editing. The transfer time is much quicker than with a mini dv. However, some video compression will occur which can affect video quality. Overall, this is a decent choice for serious videographers. The quality is still going to be a bit better with mini dv, but if you don’t mind sacrificing the slight difference in quality for ease of use, this option could work for you. ( has one Sony HDR-CX12 in stock).

4. Flash Memory
Flash memory cameras are very similar to hard drive cameras except that they record on to an SD memory card. These recordings will be much more compressed because of the size of these cards and will cause a big reduction in video quality. However, these cameras are typically much more compact and rugged, making them easy to transport and kid friendly. The ability to edit is not lost with this camera either. So, if you don’t mind average video quality and need portability, this is a great option to consider. (An example of a Flash memory video camera is The Flip.)

5. Digital SLR
Some new digital SLR cameras are now adding a video feature. It is only found in the models with the live view feature. Hollywood is taking notice of this and has started using these for the filming of movies and TV shows. Not all of the models are going to be suited for those purposes, but they all offer pretty good quality. As of right now, it looks like the Canon 5D Mark II is the leader of the pack as far as quality goes but the Nikon D300s and the Canon 7D are pretty good also. The only real drawbacks to this format is recording time and focusing. You can only focus these in manual mode. There is currently no auto-focus for digital SLR video. This can make tracking a subject more difficult. The recording time is limited to the amount of time the shutter can remain open, and the size of the memory card being used. For example, the 5D Mark II can record up to 4GB per clip. This equals out to about 12 minutes of high definition or 24 minutes of standard definition video. A lot of professionals are starting to go the DSLR route for their video needs now. If you are filming something that can be done in segments, this is a great choice. It probably isn’t the best option for a baseball or softball game but it is great for movies, documentaries, or other quick scene films. The quality is great and the upload time is short. (Some models included that have video are: Canon 7D, 60D, 5D Mark II, Rebel T1i, T2i, T3i, T3. Find a Canon model in stock here. Nikon D90, D300s, D3100, D5000, D7000, D3s. Find a Nikon model in stock here.)

- Katie Conner


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